I used to work as a Speech Pathologist. I helped children who were having difficulty learning how to speak and put words together. I was literally giving children a voice, and time and time again, I saw how powerfully it affected their lives for good when they were able to speak and be understood by others. I learned that children who have behaviour problems usually have an underlying communication difficulty. It affects us negatively to not be able to speak, to not be heard and understood by others.
How do we give people a voice? By listening to them, and responding to what they say. No child ever learned to talk by watching television. Kids need turn-taking and a shared focus to learn to speak. They need the pauses. They need to be listened to. They need to be given a voice to learn how to use it. In the same way, God’s people don’t learn to use their voice by listening to sermons. They need to be listened to and be affirmed. They need to be given a voice to learn how to use it. Everyone in church has something to contribute. Sometimes it is the messiest people who can minister the most powerfully to the rest of us. We miss out on so much when we only listen to one person, one perspective, one voice.
Giving people a voice can change their lives. It can affect their future. It can impact the way they see themselves. It can empower them to use that voice in the world around them. When you give people a voice, you don’t just allow them to communicate their thoughts and ideas. You also give them power to influence change.